Tea Sir? (or ramblings of a crazy person in Sri Lanka)

Routine has been a constant driver for me over the last year, I've kind of needed it. Having been previously lead by the hands of chaos and malfunction, routine has been a much needed and welcomed ally and I've clung to it pretty tightly; I wake up at the same time, I do the same habitual yoga session, my morning juices are the same, I train at the gym on the same days, meditation in the evenings has become common practice, I always take a holiday to India to go and visit old friends and although I travel for work I've managed to keep to a routine whilst doing this.

If I was to be completely honest I got so settled into routine that the idea of doing something different was a little frightening, the unknown which I once welcomed held an uncertainty that I wasn't sure that I wanted to deal with.

Despite the fact that order has seemed to work well for me I couldn't also push away the lingering thought that I needed something different, to experience something new and fire the senses that I felt were becoming too settled.

So in a moment of impulse I booked a flight to Colombo with the aim of exploring a bit of Sri Lanka for a week. It had been a place that I'd always been interested in visiting, I didn't have a great knowledge about the country which actually made it more appealing. I had friends who knew the place so I'd avoid too much reading online beforehand, I'd trust their recommendations and just go, sounds as good a way as any to eschew routine.

The first error in my ways presented itself upon landing into a monsoonal rain that would have had Noah scampering to build an Ark, who knew that May was shouldering the monsoon season for much of the country and when it isn't raining then one can expect sweltering humidity and heat? Well I would have if I hadn't been so naïve to just arrive in a place. See although much of what I do now is set to a timed routine or practice I can still be ignorant to the specifics of a place. It hasn't been uncommon in the past to land into Shanghai only to discover it's the middle of winter at which point I'm left scampering the city, normally late at night, with an icy wind belting my face as I search for any type of clothing that will better suit the climate than my shorts and t-shirt.

Maybe it was the rain or maybe that upon landing the reality hit that for the first time in my sobriety I was going to be in a new place, without being in direct contact of friends and pretty clueless about exactly what I was going to do for a week but my head started to do a few cartwheels. The kind of thinking that I had managed to avoid now for a few months started rushing back, that old anxious feeling; the sweaty palms, the questioning oneself, in short being way too focused internally and residing in fear. The ride in from the airport was relatively easy but my head was racing, did I have my passport in my bag, would the hotel be open, did I have enough money, every little moment that could go sideways was thought of, crazy really and hardly the start of brushing off routine that I anticipated. I finally arrived at the hotel to find that it was indeed open (of course), that my passport was safely in my bag (hardly a surprise) and that the chaotic events that had unfolded in my mind had not eventuated. Bed could not have been more welcoming.

Rising quite late that first morning I decided that the best way to throw off any internal anxiety about being in a new place was to just hit the streets. I didn't have much of a plan, a few sites to see, more that idea of just walking around and getting a feel for the city. I visited some temples and walked the streets however that nervous feeling would not be shaken. It was as if I was almost trying to protect myself from some invisible threat that had absolutely nothing to do with the city or it's people. Had Singapore, corporate travel and routine sucked a bit of that adventure out of me, had my past indiscretions really made me that guarded?

Colombo itself was a really beautiful place. My first thought was that this is Bombay on Valium. That's not a criticism of either mind you, nor am I trying to compare them, but it seemed to be the only way that I could put a finger on the pulse of the place. Stunning colonial villa's and buildings were dotted throughout the streets, it was designed rather geometrically, from what I could see, with the ocean as it's defining feature, it had the traffic, the horns, the rickshaws, the people and the markets but everything was turned down in volume and intensity from what I had experienced with my 4 years in Bombay. Despite what my head was doing I was taking it all in, Colombo had all the elements of a beach side village whilst still retaining it's big city vibrancy.

Early on in the day, in an attempt to fight the sweltering heat that just seems to sit over the city whilst it awaits its next downpour, I ducked into a local snack shop to buy a couple of bottles of water, with every intention of replacing the litres that were pouring out of me. It was your typical subcontinent style snack shop, I'd imagine what used to be quite bright pastel blue dulled down through years of monsoon humidity and the rush of customers, low ceilings that warranted anyone over 5 feet to watch every step, low lighting, loud chatter and finally that close resemblance to a sauna, damn it was hot! The guy behind the counter who introduced himself as “I am a Muslim, you won't be able to pronounce my name but you can call me Johnny,” started up a conversation with me that went as follows; where was I from, who was I with, why wasn't I married and a few others I can't remember? He seemed friendly enough and asked if I would like to join him for some tea. He was interested in my take on the current IPL and the state of the Australian cricket team as well as my thoughts on Sri Lanka. I'd love to say it was the heat but honestly I just didn't feel it, there was something in me that put up a shield, he seemed interesting but I just didn't want to give any of myself away. Quite dejected with being a bit guarded, I nailed the water, passed the money to Johnny and left.

I spent pretty much the remainder of the day walking around, camera in hand exploring the city but my thoughts kept coming back to Johnny, and the offer of tea that I so quickly rejected. It was only a very small moment but for me it summed up where my head was at, although I was here to throw off that idea of routine and explore somewhere different much of it was surface wear, it was all good to say this but I had to actually follow through with it.

I used to live for this stuff; a new city, local places, having discussions with random strangers! But all of that felt like a distant memory, there was a huge part of me that just wanted to retreat to my room and get away from it all. I longed for my routine, my meetings, my friends and yet here I was alone in a city where I didn't know anyone and further still was running from the chance to get to know people.

By mid afternoon I had retreated back into the comfort of my room, I had every intention to stay in, maybe do some meditation in the hope that the fear and anxiety that I was experiencing would dissipate, maybe the next day would be better.

I'm not sure what caused me to contemplate heading back out but through the slits in the blinds I did notice that much of the cloud that had draped the city for most of the day had dispersed and the sun was piercing through. The choice of either sitting in the room or getting out was being presented and I picked myself up, grabbed a rickshaw and headed to Galle face to watch the sunset. I'd heard about this being something worth doing and I was definitely sure it was better than being in my room.

Galle face is simply a large open field located on the ocean in the centre of the city. Scattered with grass but mainly consisting of dirt it's surrounded by colonial buildings and the odd high rise and on a weekend afternoon becomes an amphitheatre for congregation and revelry. The clouds hadn't fully cleared so the colours on the horizon were spectacular. Kites being flown by children and families dotted the sky and crows and other birds took possession of the aerial real estate that was left behind. The esplanade itself was heaving; make shift seafood stalls lined the edge and there wasn't a spare seat in the house while the smell of wood and charcoal from the home made grills wafted into the air. One of the things that had definitely grabbed me about Colombo was it's subtlety amidst what was a larger subcontinent city. The colours, the smells, the noise had definitely existed in other cities I had visited but in Colombo it was almost as if they had more space to be themselves. Individual smells from kerosene lamps or charcoal fires were distinct and separated, a far cry from the combined sensorial overload in places like Saigon and while it was packed with people I could still hear individual conversations and laughter or the friendly arguments that arose out of the many popup cricket games that were going on around me.

I hadn't experienced this type of coming together since I had been in Bombay. It was truly a mass of humanity and I'm not sure what clicked inside of me but I loved it. A young Muslim family, complete with mother in a Burkha sat on a seat facing the ocean and talked, Buddhist monks gathered near the pier deep in conversation, young lovers sat with their legs hanging over the esplanade, almost willing the ocean to come and whisk them away, it was chaotic and thriving and I was in awe. Every one of my senses was being teased, the wild palette of colours, the sounds, the smells, here I was sitting in the middle of life.

The clouds on the horizon meant that the sun didn't completely pitch into the ocean as it does most of the year but the sky was lit up with a collection of pink, purple, blue and red hues. I found a small patch of dirt, sat down and basked in the humanity that was around me. It was a touchingly beautiful moment, far removed from the earlier parts of the day when I was mulling in my own thoughts. I sat for almost an hour taking in the scenes around me and acknowledging that not only earlier that day but for a while I had abandoned the idea that had helped me so much over the preceding year; that I'm a small part of a bigger picture and lucky enough to be on for the ride and I can either enjoy it and see where it takes me or be a miserable knob and still be on it. It was a truly humbling moment.

Once the clouds had swallowed the last remnants of the day and darkness began to take hold I got up and started a very slow walk back to find a rickshaw. In some ways I didn't want this feeling of connectivity to dissipate, I had a grin on my face, I'm pretty sure it looked a bit weird judging from the awkward glances people walking past were throwing in my direction but something had changed, I felt as if I had been reacquainted with an old friend. I found a rickshaw and started the journey home. By this stage my shirt (initially grey, which was a minor oversight in itself) was drenched through for the 3rd time that day rendering it closer to a piece of cardboard than the cotton that the tag indicated, the money that sat loosely in my shorts was now almost unacceptable tender, I was dusty and dirty, far from fragrantly beautiful and my knees were now back into the familiar position of being pinballs against the metal bars in a rickshaw. But I was in love, both with Sri Lanka and the idea of travel.

Over 10 years ago during my graduation, a man I admired by the name of Rick Le Plastrier gave a speech where he pushed the rather romantic idea of packing a bag with some clothes, a camera and a sketch book to go and explore the world for 10 years, only then to come back and work. At the time I was torn, the idea grabbed me but I'd also just spent 6 years studying an architecture degree that had driven many person to the brink of madness, maybe it made all that effort sound pointless. But I get where he was coming from, he wasn't necessarily saying it had to be a set period of time away, more he was getting to the point of removing oneself from their comfort zone and learning, both about humanity and who you are.

I'd love to be able to say that I am still the same person I was 10 years ago when I left Sydney, that I can shed routine and my everyday practice to arrive in a place and go all native, sitting at random coffee shops and the like but the truth be told that's probably not me anymore. I'm older and a bit more guarded than I once was, it's not quite as easy for me anymore to shed routine, it's safer to find a balance and I'm fine with that.

As I settle for the night and try and take stock on the roller coaster of a day my mind drifts back to Johnny and his offer to sit and chat with him, I have no idea what tomorrow brings, but I know at some point I'll be pouring sweat over a tea with him.

Hitting the Streets

I admire people who can maintain a regular blog, I struggle to put something down every month let alone on a more frequent basis. In saying that it has been a whirlwind 8 weeks, during which time I think I have spent a total of 20 days in my own bed, sounds like a lot but when this is fragmented with 3 days one week, 2 days another the whole concept of one's own place begins to feel foreign.

I'm not complaining about the above, I'm blessed to have a job where I get to travel to some pretty amazing cities and during these travels I have time to get out and explore, most of the time with a camera in hand.

I love cities and exploring them; putting on some decent shoes, grabbing the camera and just walking, never being sure about my direction and never having a destination in mind, quite often being content that I have a train pass with money on it when the time comes to retreat back into the surroundings of a hotel or wherever it is that I'm staying. I use the word retreat, maybe it sounds too harsh, but most of the time after trekking around for a good portion of the day that is exactly how it feels, the need to return back to a base, away from the noise, the constant moving pieces and the general chaos of the urban environment is a great feeling. Normally I retreat incredibly content that I have discovered something that I never knew existed or stumbled across some very subtle interactions between people.

Now that I'm back in my apartment after all of the recent travels I am sifting through the countless images that I collected, not only from the last 2 months but also from a previous trip to Mumbai, with the aims of putting together a 2 volume Street Photography project that will be up here on the website over the coming weeks.

Those subtle moments are in many ways what I was looking for. I'll always remember a trip to Varanasi that I took a while ago, it was anything but subtle and there was a plethora of exciting and interesting moments to capture, moments that I knew would look amazing as an image. However walking the streets of the cities listed above, I do not always come across outwardly intense characters or interactions, this was more about finding those precious moments that we feel and see on a day to day basis, that is life. Essentially, being me and over thinking just about everything I come across, I loved creating stories and scenarios for the people in the frames, they almost became characters in an unwritten story and the majority of the time the stories of love, loss, despair, hope and joy that I created were probably far more dramatic than what they were actually experiencing, but that's part of the fun.

I'm really excited and working pretty hard to finalise the first volume so I can have it up and open for people to look at and interpret how they see it, that's part of the brilliance of photography, I found something, I framed it and people are open to put their own stories, cast their own emotions onto it.

So in a week you should see the first incarnation, until then I'll be putting up some samples on Tumblr and Facebook.

Thanks

Matt

Next steps

The idea of doing a Street Photography project came to me some time ago, seeing I've spent the majority of my adult life in cities bursting with humanity I'm actually surprised the idea hadn't come up earlier. In my mind the idea was relatively straight forward, focus on a specific city then use photography as a means to document the urban environment, that is both the people and the urban nature and geometries of a city. At the end there would hopefully be a manifesto of the city, a set of images that speak to the place and take the viewer through the chaos into the heart of the people and the relationships between.

All good in theory, however I've learnt with many ideas that practicality can make things tougher than expected and the major hurdle for this is that very rarely am I in a city or place for longer than 2 weeks straight, which would create a long and drawn out project.

Knowing full well that patience and focus on a single entity are definitely not my strongest points I have come up with the idea to retain the Street Photography idea but instead of it being on a single city the boundaries would be set by time, in this case 3 months. What I mean, simply, is that I will shoot photography on the streets, wherever I am for the next 3 months and at the end hopefully have a collection of images that although might tell a fragmented story, still have common themes running through.

I'm kind of excited by this, when I look at my travel schedule over the next 3 months it reads anything but stagnant; Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, London, Yangoon, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Mumbai....this is just what I know as a certainty, this could expand, but as foundations it excites me. There are common themes within these places; many of them are dense, seething masses of humanity, culturally rich with stunning contrasts between past and present. There is definitely a theme of colonialism that exists, although I'm not sure how much of this I will focus on in the project.

For me, the real excitement comes from examining the human aspect within these (and any other) places that I visit. The interactions between, the moments of isolation, how people use the cities, I do get very driven when I think of this.

This really is an experiment, I have no forward idea if this will actually come out as something very cool or just a collection of frames from different cities. When I think about this I really like that 'Pulp Fiction' idea, each individual image tells a unique story, it captures an emotion, makes the viewer think, but at it's heart it is it's own piece. But as a series the frames come together to create something quite powerful, making a statement about the cities that we live in.

The unknown and the uncertainty, makes it really exciting....I guess I'll know in 3 months exactly how possible this is.

 

Also, as an addition, there will be some images of Sydney that I will put up on 'The Street Dog Collective' facebook site:

 

https://www.facebook.com/streetdogcollective

 

I carried around a Diana film camera for a few days, to see if I could conjure up images from places where I grew up. It's something that, over time, I really want to look to expand on and each time I come home I intent to shoot with this amazing plastic film camera. The shots I got were mixed, some very cool ones and some pieces of trash, but that's half the fun. That rustic style really does play to what I'm aiming for, which is a chronicle of Sydney now, taken in places where I spent my youth, with people that I have known for many years, on a camera that is very raw and honest.....see how we go.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Matt

A beautiful journey

Firstly I have to apologise if this seems a little scattered, my head is still a bit all over the place after the exhibition 'From Isolation to Solitude' which finished after an 8 day run on Thursday evening. 

What an experience, I'm definitely guilty of using superlatives too often however I can't find enough to describe the experience of putting on this exhibition as well as the affect it seemed to have on people. When I first bought this up around 8 months ago to a very close friend it was based around the idea of showing images that I'd taken from my travels with the aim being to break the stereotypical idea of an addict, to show that we are in fact very capable and it's a much more prevalent issue than a person sitting homeless in the gutter. I was uneasy with this idea though, it wasn't specifically making a statement, more just a collection of photos. Over time this evolved to really showcasing the isolation that an addict (in fact anyone suffering from a mental illness) can experience, those intense moments of loneliness and pain, where the mind battles itself constantly and insanity draws closer with each breathe.

The whole process was really special, I was incredibly proud of the final collection of images but more importantly the journey was very special. Through the shooting, the organising and finally presenting I feel as if my recovery took major strides forward. I was forced to confront the past, to look deeply into myself and examine the reasons this happened, the personality traits and defects that I previously I ignored or accepted (or both). I had to learn patience, tolerance, acceptance and most importantly that what I did was good enough if it started a dialogue within society about addiction.

The reaction of people that came to visit was very special, something that I will never forget. I had the pleasure of meeting a family on the second night, I didn't know them, they had no previous experience with addicts however we talked for a long time about the issues, they asked some really honest and searching questions and were visibly affected by the images. If it was only these people that attended I would have been happy, the fact that we had a great turn out of very like minded people surpassed my wildest dreams.

I would like to thank a very special group of people who made this event possible (they know who they are), Bar Naked for their amazing hospitality and generosity for providing the space for free, a group of my closest friends who are recovering addicts themselves for giving their time to speak and host panels during the exhibition, AVS printing who did an amazing job and finally to all my family, friends and strangers, near and far who came to the event or supported through messages. I believe that no addict need to suffer in silence, this was my first small step on what I believe will be a long journey, to open this up to the world.

My next steps in this process are still undecided, however I'm really excited to focus on my next photography project, probably one that moves away from isolation/fear themes and towards something happier......a nice weekend of my time and then I'll make a call.

Thank you for taking the time to read.

Matt

Inspiration

I've never studied photography, I've never taken a class so maybe I'm a bit of a fraud calling myself a photographer from time to time. In truth it's just something I enjoy and I find it to be an art form that I can relate to, I can express myself and say things I want to through photography.

Right now I'm in that in-between phase, I have an exhibition in less than 2 weeks and my images are being printed and framed, my heads still buried in the show so what does one do? Well, it's given me a great opportunity to revisit those amazing photographers and storytellers who simply by looking at their work has inspired me to push myself. One day I dream of being able to live from photography and creativity....make images, design buildings/places, create furniture, write music, anything that allows me to express myself, that day to day idea of waking up in the morning knowing that I am creating and being able to tell stories, to open people's minds to issues that are hidden away, to say something important and to make a mark in the world. In many ways all of what I'm doing now are the first steps towards that dream.

Anyway, in case anyone reading this is looking to be inspired by photographers that tell stories, that capture moments that we all wish we could be in, here is list of people that I always turn too, I don't know any of them personally (I don't even live on the same continent as most of them) but it feels like I do sometimes.

Matt Eich: matteichphoto.com

Alec Soth: alecsoth.com/photography/

Sarah Naomi Lewkowicz: www.saranaomiphoto.com/

Mike Brodie: mikebrodie.net/

Matt Luton: mattlutton.com/

Andre D Wagner: abstractelements.com/#1

Adam Dean: adamdean.net/

Brendan Bullock: brendanbullock.com/

I'll update this with some more at a later date, it's a decent first course into the amazing talent that exists in the world. For now I'm getting my head down and continuing this journey, working towards my dreams.....thanks for taking the time to read!

Matt

 

3 weeks to go.....

The final countdown is well and truly on for the exhibition “From Isolation to Solitude: an addicts journey of recovery” that will open in Singapore on the 5th of February. I’m happy to say that I managed to complete all shooting for this in Shanghai recently where the cold and wet weather definitely added to the mood and emotion of the frames…..I’m putting a few images from around Shanghai up on my Tumblr blog shortly so keep an eye out for them.

There is still a lot that needs doing before opening night but I am pretty proud of what I have managed to pull together. Its been a pretty special journey designing and taking the shots, if there has been one thing that’s been truly difficult for me in the past it has been that Isolation and loneliness, the disconnect (which is entirely my own fault) from people, friends and family. There has been a lot of effort and inward focus to try and resolve these issues and on the whole I’m in a decent place.

To try and capture the true pain of this isolation in the images took a lot out of me, I’m really happy that I chose to use myself as the person portraying this, there is a haunting reality to it and I still find it interesting how sad I feel looking at myself…..there is a sorrow and hopelessness that I feel for the person that I was and a pride in the fact that I’m fronting up to this, its quite a juxtaposition.

A month ago I think I had a fear about the event, how would I be portrayed, would people think its about ego, would the images be any good? I am now really looking forward to opening night, I’ve faced those questions in myself, I’m doing this with the aim of creating a conversation, a dialogue about addiction and using photos as a way to express emotions about just how bad it can get…..good or bad, loved or hated, I am at peace with it all….there’s very little I can do to control the rest, I’ve been true to myself and this will come across on the night.

If you’re in Singapore or around please feel free to drop by, its running from the 5th to the 13th of February, open in the evenings (post 7pm) at bar Naked, 95 Club Street. If you are overseas the images will be put up here towards the end of the exhibition dates…..I’m sure you’ll hear more from me prior to opening night.

Am off to edit and select the final frames…..thanks for taking the time to read and best wishes.

Matt

Silence: The Temples of Angkor.....a short but touching visit

Growing up I always felt a connection to lost cities, civilisations and ruins. Maybe it was an overzealous dose of Indiana Jones or cartoons about characters seeking adventure but there was definitely a strong visceral connection that did exist and still does to this day. I still get excited at the opportunity to visit places like Tibet, Northern India and Cambodia, I'm not sure what it is but there is a sense of adventure, of discovery and of escape....a psychologist would have a field day with this!

There is an inherent mystery and curiosity that I long for, so to say I was excited to head to Cambodia to visit the Temples over the New Year period is an understatement. I've been lucky enough in my past to have been a tour guide through Asia, I've seen many of the places that I dreamt of as a young boy but time and again I can revisit them and still feel that giddy excitement, that youthful exuberance that only travel brings.

I traveled with a very close friend of mine, the aim being to show her around the Temples that I had such an affinity for, photography (at least in my mind) wasn't a major priority. I thought if I get a couple of decent shots then I'd be happy.

As we traveled around and explored that excitement came back to me, I found myself in love with the details, in awe of the scale and blown away by the mystery. The dreams of discovery came back and without realising it I was intent on capturing the mystery, the subtle beauty of the Temples and the surrounding area. Having visited the Temples numerous times I found myself less concerned with the 'money shots' and more focused on the small moments. The light that filtered through the carved windows, the texture of the stone and the interaction of people visiting and exploring for themselves.

The finished product, which I thought perfectly suited Black and White as a medium, sums up my emotions and feelings about the place, it captures my dreams of travel and discovery and reminds me of the beauty that lies out there in the world, the places that take me outside of my own existence, that show long forgotten glory and also the beauty in the simplicity of things.

I sincerely hope you enjoy, and remember that traveling takes us out of ourselves, it certainly humbles me and makes me realise just how very small and insignificant I am.

 

Thanks

Matt

Another step along the path

Shooting for 'From Isolation to Solitude' is now well and truly underway with the aim to be finished with the shooting by the end of December in readiness for editing, printing, framing. It's been a pretty crazy journey.

When I started down this path a friend asked me if I wanted to use him as a model instead of putting myself in the images. My gut reaction was a pretty stern 'No' it would have far more impact if people were able to see that it was me recreating these moments of Isolation and hence become invested in the journey of how I reached the point where I am now....the journey from Isolation to Solitude.

I didn't think shooting would have much affect on me, I've been clean and sober now for a while, I make all the necessary steps to stay this way, I do yoga, I meditate and throw a lot of my focus into photography, I'm in a good place! 

I am quite happy to admit here that I was wrong. I never anticipated the impact that doing this shoot would have on me. For one, I'm not a good model so on the surface the issue of time has been a challenging issue. It's taken such a huge amount of time to set the shot, get into position, check, not be happy with the light, my pose etc, then repeat, sometimes many many times.

Add onto the above the fact that while I'm in no way recreating or glorifying addiction in any way I am trying to capture the emotion of Isolation, one that I spent a great deal of time in. Let's call it arrogance, that I thought I was beyond any affect from staying in this frame of mind, however it definitely pushed me into a negative way of thinking. All I can say is that I am incredibly grateful to my good friend Suresh for talking me through this process, taking the pressure off me and just being a great sounding board.

With all of the above though, and with the benefit of a good friend and hindsight I can happily say that I'm already incredibly proud of the images I have so far. There is a quiet darkness and beauty in them, I always said that the journey of putting on this exhibition would be much stronger for me than the actual images, and it has been thus far. I've learnt a great deal about photography just from this, I've learnt to trust my instincts and I've learnt to listen and ask for help when I needed it.....all of those things have failed me previously, just like life, progress not perfection.

Look forward to finishing the images, having the exhibition then getting the images up here!

Thanks and Merry Xmas to all!

Matt

And here we go

Its about to get very exciting. I've recently been working on a series of images that capture the emotions of Isolation. Why? Something that I've been quite reluctant to share previously is that I have had some large issues throughout my life with drug and alcohol addiction.  Its something that day by day I am coming to terms with and accepting as part of my being and I've managed to get a decent number of months clean and sober under my belt.

One of the driving forces behind me being able to stay healthy, clean and focused has been photography, this website was a direct result of this actually. Something that is now very important is putting on an exhibition to raise some money for people in recovery as well as bring to light the issue, which can affect anyone.

I'm really aiming to capture the emotion of isolation and everything that goes with it, the loneliness, darkness, fear and pain. I've steered away from including drug paraphernalia, its about visually representing the mind of someone in deep addiction. 

So far, the shooting, the creating, the organizing has been a beautifully cathartic experience, I've opened up to people, friends and family members, I've slowly started to accept that I will stand next to these images on a wall while calling myself an addict and I'm driven each day to do this for people that are still going through that private hell.

The details are in the News section but it will be in SIngapore from February 6th to 12th at Naked Bar, 95 Club Street. More details and some preview images to follow.

Thanks

Matt

Inspiration

There are times when anyone's well of ideas runs dry, no matter how hard one summons they simply cannot feel it. I have had a bit of this over the last 6 weeks, I was still shooting, drawing, writing etc but to be honest I had a dislike of anything that I produced. I don't think it was bad or abnormally different to what I had done previously however I just wasn't feeling it.

I remember from my days as an architecture student a tutor proposing the remedy to this issue, let go, be loose and go look somewhere different for ideas and inspiration.

The world has a funny way of working sometimes, just as I felt I was in need of inspiration, of ideas I had 2 very cool moments that sparked me. 

I was flying recently for a business trip, something which I do on a regular basis and Singapore Airlines did me the courtesy of adding the Vivian Maier documentary onto their collections. I had previously seen her work and read quite a bit about her but the movie was done in a very intelligent and somewhat subtle manner, to be sat in front of that much amazing street photography for 90mins cannot help but inspire. She truly had an amazing eye, she captured the most beautifully honest moments, her framing and ability to connect with a subject is special, if you haven't seen much of her work then check it out.

The other piece of Inspiration again I knew about previously but I will never get tired of looking at, the street photography of Hong Kong by Fan Ho (or Ho Fan). His work is stunning, the light, the geometry, the scale, he captures it all in what seems an effortless action. Sometimes I feel that I am a heavy handed designer/photographer, I'll bullishly go at it, trying to capture a moment. Sometimes that makes for clutter and weight in an image, Fan Ho definitely doesn't have this. It is light, spacious and gets to the heart of Hong Kong back in the day. I have a small love affair with the place, there is something about that city that is special. It truly speaks to being a metropolis, dense, tall, the action on the street is one thing but who knows what's happening in those tall, thin buildings above. As an architect there is something to be said about the geometry and frames that the urban landscape creates, truly a jungle.

I am planning on heading back for a 3 day trip to Hong Kong, let loose and try and capture what makes it special to me. There will definitely be some of Fan Ho and Vivian Maier floating in my mind and the knowledge that if I'm feeling stuck just to go out and explore, to let go and surrender to what is happening around me.

Thanks

Matt

From where I stand

Shooting with a Diana F film camera has always been great fun and a way of removing the shackles so to speak and letting loose. I find that the manner in which I make images is completely different depending on which medium I use.

I picked this format up more than anything as a way to document the mundane moments around me but I instantly fell in love with the rawness and imperfections that this style has to offer. I'm someone who usually puts an enormous amount of stress on myself, pressures to never fail or let people down, through this style though I had to completely relinquish control of anything, all I could really do was load the film, adjust 2 very basic settings and leave the rest up to the camera and situation.

These are just some of my favourites, those really nice accidental moments. Every image is actually very personal to me given the situations that were taken during. I plan to continue adding to this collection relatively frequently, it will be a diary of sorts and come to represent those moments when I just went out and shot for the shit of it.

Thanks

Where to now....

Firstly if you're reading this thanks for taking the time to stop by, I've been massively surprised and humbled by the reaction to these collections so far.

Its been an interesting time since launching 'The Street Dog Collective,' I wouldn't call it a complete photographic block, I think I just put in so much time into getting this launched and didn't really want to self analyse or critique anymore of my work for a while.

Got a bit of that creative spark back now and looking ahead to my next set of projects, the one I am most excited by is an exhibition that I will be putting on early in the new year, in Singapore, that is looking into the idea of alcoholism and addiction, both of these as well as the idea of arts used in recovery are very close to me. I must admit I am really excited about this, the projects that exist currently on this site are very much documentary/travel/storytelling (or an attempt at), this project will be much more artistic in nature & focus primarily on expressing key themes and emotions. I don't want to give away too much, I am currently developing the concept and will begin shooting in the next fortnight, will post some test shots over the coming weeks for anyone interested.

Got some Lomography prints developed from a recent trip to India, that Diana F, which has seen better days after being banged around various countries in Asia, is always a great way to just go and let loose, not be too concerned with results, its a very meditative way of working. I'm going to get together some shots from recent trips and put them up in the projects section, a way of keeping a visual diary and let you all see what I've been up to while I work on more long term projects. Lot's on, I'm stoked to have all this up and running finally!

Hope you enjoy, thanks again for stopping by.

 

Welcome

So here I am, looking back its been almost 5 years in the making. I always made images sporadically, never really sticking with it for too long until recently. Over the course of the last 6 months I decided to get my act together & put together this website that would act as a showcase of the images I've made & collected.

'A place to call home,' a visual documentary of my time in India, is a no brainer for me to focus on for the first project. The images were made from 2009 to 2014, focusing on different parts of the amazing country I called home for the same period. From the outset I tried to avoid the stereotype of India & try & focus on making images that captured what I loved about the country. It was a tough ask in the end as I was essentially trying to sum up all my feelings about the country, one as contrasting as India, in around 30 images. In the end I went with those shots that meant something to me, a mix that would show the beauty of the country as well as some of my more personal ones......in short it is a letter, a scrapbook of my love & admiration for the place.

With the 'Singles' collection I wanted to try and represent shots from the entire time I have been making images, random and a little chaotic, sometimes beautiful, sometimes stark, they always bring back very poignant memories for me.

There are many projects that are close to my heart that I intend to focus on with this site, hopefully portraying people & their stories & bringing to light some issues that I feel the need to speak on. Photography & making images is still the best voice I have & the best way of expressing myself. I hope if you've taken the time to read this & spend some time on the site that you enjoy.

Best